July 1997

Root Page of Article: The Web and the Paradigm of the Front Page, by Flora J. Garcia

Thinking About the Online Audience

It appears that there are three obvious ways of thinking about the audience for online newspapers. First, a Web site hopes to provide news and information to a remote, not necessarily geographically associated hitter. Second, a site hopes to be part of a larger, entertaining, global Web. Third, a traditional existing customer base adds or replaces use of the newspaper with the news from the Web.

The first type of user would be attracted to and retained by the quality, evolution, and breadth of the site's news. This user might be a sports fan remote from a particular team or conference site, a professional interested in a particular industry or category of coverage. This hitter is retained by content and ease of use.

The second type of user is probably attractive to a national base of advertisers, but tends to be uninterested in local advertisers. This hitter is fickle, moves along the Web fast, and is responsible for some of the massive numbers of hits that some sites claim to receive. College students, and media and Web professionals might populate this group. These are the electronic equivalent of people who tend to buy different magazines at the newsstand and have few favorites or subscriptions.

Most agree that in the end, online users will look for the same qualities from their news services that newspaper readers have demanded for years. Ease of use, quality of information, and enjoyment become crucial to success. --

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